Your trusted system needs to cover every aspect of your life. If it can’t handle everything you throw at it, you won’t trust it to handle anything.
Many people will get by just fine with a single system that will track all of their tasks, goals, projects, calendar, and notes. But for a lot of people, having everything in a single system like that can be distracting. For some, it might even be illegal, or at least a bad idea.
Designing your system to keep personal and professional tasks separate can actually give you a better system overall.
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One of the hot topics in personal computing today is wearables, specifically smart watches (other ideas haven’t really taken off).
I got an Apple Watch when they were first released. I had some specific ideas of how it could help me get more done with less friction. Other uses would present themselves as I got used to it and new apps were released.
It didn’t take long before my Watch was an integral part of my productivity system. Here are the top eleven questions I’ve started using my Watch to answer as I go through my day.
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Driving is a task. You may not think about it much, but we spend 101 minutes every day driving.
If you’re the one behind the wheel, driving is your primary task at the moment. Like any task, the amount of preparation and attention you give it will affect how quickly and efficiently you finish.
Here are ten tips to help you drive more productively.
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I have thousands of unread articles in Pocket. According to ReadKit, it’s 2,264. I doubt I’m going to read them all.
When I have time, I’ll sit down and read through articles. I’ll share the best with others who might find them interesting. Some are deep reads that make me think. Some are light reads that I just skim.
Some of the articles, I delete without reading. At some point, I thought I wanted to read it. Or might want to read it. Maybe. Possibly.
This probably feels familiar to you. If you use a similar workflow for reading the news, checking email, or anything else, you shouldn’t feel guilty about dropping work you deferred until later. It may have already served its purpose.
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When the iPhone was introduced, one of the most innovative and controversial aspects of the design was the keyboard. Before the iPhone, phones either had a physical QWERTY keyboard (like the prevalent Blackberry phones) or relied on a numeric keypad with T9 (like my stylish Motorolla RAZR).
The power of this design choice (obvious in hindsight) is that you can easily change the keyboard without having to change the hardware. Parlez-vous Français? Bam! You’ve got an AZERTY keyboard. Chinese? You have a keyboard that lets you draw characters. TextExpander’s keyboard will expand macros as you type them and Google’s keyboard lets you swipe between letters to spell out words. You can search and browse emoji. On the iPad, there’s even a keyboard that recognizes handwriting.
This is a flexibility that you just don’t have with a hardware keyboard. You can customize how you type according to personal preference.
There’s another keyboard built in to iOS that you may not have tried: the Siri Dictation keyboard. It’s 3x faster than typing.
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You can’t pick up a set of weights, bust out 240 reps, and expect good things to happen. For one thing, if you can do 240 reps without stopping, you don’t have enough weight. If you have the correct weight, your muscles will give out after about fifteen reps.
Instead of going for one set of 240, break it up. Do fifteen reps, then rest for a minute or two. Call that a set. Do four sets of four different exercises, and you can easily get 240 reps in an hour-long workout.
The key is the rest between each set. That one- or two-minute break gives your muscles a much-needed rest to recover. Work them too hard—including not giving them that break—and you’re just going to get tired without seeing the results you’re after.
Your brain needs rest between reps while it’s working, too. The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, is designed to help you develop a similar natural cadence at work.
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A recipe for bacon-wrapped jalepeno poppers. An audio recording of your kids saying hello. The receipt from your trip to Costco. A comic strip that made you smile.
It’s a filing cabinet you actively reference. It’s an archive where you can safely store a copy of scanned documents. It’s an indispensable part of your digital planning system.
Evernote is great at archiving information. It indexes everything and even lets you search for text inside of images. There’s no cap on how much data your account can hold. That’s why hundreds of millions of people use Evernote for their digital brain.
Here are seven ways you can capture the stream of information coming at you and save it into Evernote.
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Evernote is one-third of my digital planning system. I use OmniFocus to track what I need to do, Fantastical to track where I need to be, and Evernote to record a log of what I’ve done.
On both macOS and iOS, OmniFocus and Fantastical have ways to capture pretty quickly. You’re never more than a few taps, keystrokes, or spoken words away from creating a new task or meeting.
Updating your daily record in Evernote isn’t so easy. Evernote will let you quickly create a new note, but we need to be able to update an existing note. On macOS, I solved this problem a long time ago with an AppleScript that will find or create the right note and add a new entry. It made updating my daily record almost frictionless.
On iOS, the friction was still there. Making an entry on the go was so tedious that instead of recording what I had done right then when it happened, I’d try to remember it to do it when I got back to my Mac. You can guess how well that worked.
Fortunately, I just found a solution that makes updating your daily record on the go as simple as doing it at your desk. In fact, I’ll sometimes use my phone (okay, watch) to make an entry because it’s kind of fun.
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Think of the following paper-based workflow: you’re working at your desk when an idea comes to you. Maybe it’s something you need to do, someplace you need to be, a book you want to read, a new recipe you want to try this weekend, or a character trait you want to develop. Whatever it is, you don’t want to forget it, but now is not the right time for it.
You reach for a slip of paper from a small stack you keep next to your inbox tray on the corner of your desk. You write down the idea, put the slip in the inbox tray where you can process it later, and get back to work.
It’s textbook GTD. Your brain had an idea. Instead of trying to hold it there until it was time to act on it, you wrote it down to process it later. Mind like water.
It’s a clean and simple workflow. If you plan digitally, there’s an app for that! Meet Drafts, the unusual text editor for iOS from Agile Tortoise.
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Our brain is where we think thoughts. It’s also where thoughts go to die.
You see, our brain has one job: keep us alive. As our need for Survival is satisfied, we start exploring ways of staying alive more efficiently, improving the quality of our lives, and helping others stay alive. The moment our Survival is threatened, however, our brain sets all that aside and reverts to its primary mission.
There’s one problem: our brain is terrible at distinguishing between different types of threats. It doesn’t matter whether the threat is physical or emotional. If it threatens any of our basic needs, our brain will invoke the same fight-or-flight response to get us out of danger.
When you have the idea to do something bold, you have five seconds to act on it before you brain will shut the idea down.
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